SGO or adoption?

Celle
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Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:12 am

The Court date was brought forward by the judge to March 19th and Children's Services received a chastisement from the court, for their dilatory handling of this case. The judge had requested all the paperwork in advance of the court hearing, so he came prepared.

SGO was awarded for both F (to live with our daughter and her husband) and her older sister (to live with her maternal grandparents). No arrangements made for access by birth mother. This will be at the discretion of SGs. I don't know if her birth father (who hasn't seen her at all yet, or paid a penny towards her support) was granted any access to older sister. Apparently, no father is named on F's birth certificate.

F has been with her new family for about a month and has settled well. She's happy and is learning to say a new word every day. SGs plan to apply to adopt her in a year's time.

Birth mother has asked our daughter to be a "friend" on Facebook. That's not going to happen! She had her chance 3 times, with 3 children, and blew it each time.

Next weekend, F will be meeting her maternal grandparents and sister again, for the first time since she was taken into care at 5 months old - she's almost 17 months old now.

Celle
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Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:59 am

Thank you for your support. We're all relieved it has worked out well.

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David Roth
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Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by David Roth » Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:16 am

Celle, it is good news that the court has made what sounds like the right decision for these children. The only disapopintment is that contact was stopped while the process was taking place - I don't understand why this happened, but at least it is starting again now.

Congratulations to all in the family who have helped this to come to the right conclusion!
David Roth
FRG Policy Adviser

Celle
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Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:58 am

Thank you, David.
There are so many questions about the less-than-perfect procedural handling of F's case, but I guess we'll never know the answers. The important thing is that both girls now have a clean start and the chance of settled lives, where they will be well-loved..

Celle
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Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Mon Aug 18, 2014 6:52 am

The little one has been in her new home for 6 months now and all is gong well. 21 months old now, she is a happy child and has bonded well with her SGO parents, calling for "Mummy" or "Daddy" whenever she needs anything. She is developing well and the Health Visitor is pleased with her progress. She has been going to nursery two half days a week, and this is to be increased as my daughter returns to work, after 6 months' leave. CS makes a small contribution towards the cost of day care.

Contact has been re-established between little one and her birth grandparents and older half-sister. They have met several times and it went well. It was particularly good for the older sister, who remembered her baby sister, and who is traumatised by BM's unstable life.

A Birth Father has appeared, although no father is named on the little one's birth certificate. DNA tests have shown that he is almost certainly the father. He did not contest the SGO, but requested updates on progress. He is to be sent a letter and photograph annually (through CS). Since he has a police record and has done jail time, and had shown no prior interest in the child, it is unlikely that he will ever be allowed any further claim.

No visitation orders for Birth Mother were made in court, but visits were to be arranged at the discretion of SGO parents and Children's Services. My daughter and son-in-law have maintained their stance - that a supervised visit would be allowed, provided that BM is not taking drugs at the time and does not upset the child. BM's CS worker arranged a meeting with her, to discuss visitation, but BM failed to turn up for the meeting, having been, according to neighbour, out all night. She is reported to still be taking drugs and to be supporting her habit by casual prostitution. She has been arrested once.

BM phones her parents frequently - they have SGO for our little one's older half-sister - asking how her daughters are getting on. Last week, she said that she now wants to get off drugs, get a job and apply to get her children back, saying that she has an "unbreakable bond" with them. Both sets of SGO parents feel threatened by this.

Her son, now aged 13, has been in the care of his birth father's parents for several years. He is a troubled boy and has already been suspended from one school. BM does not appear to want him back.

BM has a 15-year history of drug abuse (crack cocaine), 3 children removed from her care and placed under SGOs, and a police record.

Does anyone know an approximate length of time BM would have to stay drug-free and a responsible citizen, before being granted court permission to apply to overturn the SGOs?

Celle
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Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Tue Aug 19, 2014 6:58 am

Thank you, Irene.

That's what we thought, too. But it does worry the guardians. They still want to adopt F, feeling that would be a more secure arrangement for her. F now has a birth grandmother and grandfather, a birth great-grandmother, 2 guardianship grandmothers and a guardianship grandfather. She has met and accepted all of them (we all have different names, so as not to confuse her) and contact with none of those would change if she were adopted. (She is the first cousin, twice removed, of her SGO father, so the birth relationship is not a close one.)

This BM who claims an "unbreakable bond" is the one who left her then-4-year-old daughter and 5-month-old daughter alone at night, while she went out seeking drugs. The 4-year-old was found wandering the night streets, crying for her mother. She is still traumatised and is only now - after more than a year - able to see kitchen foil without having a panic attack. We assume BM used the foil in her drug taking. Z, now 6, says adamantly that she does not ever want to see her BM again. In spite of that, CS keep pushing her grandparents (now special guardians) to allow a meeting.

SGO parents (both sets) are very careful not to post any photos of F or Z on the Internet (Facebook etc) because we know of someone whose twins were removed from her and placed under SGO, who uses her Facebook page to post photos of the children she has had taken from her, saying things like: "These are my lovely children. Look how they are growing."

F is a truly beautiful child who, CS say, would have been snapped up very quickly, had she gone for out of family adoption. We love her dearly. Daughter has just received her passport.

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Robin D
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Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Robin D » Tue Aug 19, 2014 11:38 am

Can I add that we only had a residence order so not as secure as an SGO. When BM said she was going to sort herself out, the court wanted evidence that the turn-around would be sustainable. Many missed appointments with the guardian, SW's and other professional later, nothing changed. I'm sure in their heart of hearts they want to do it, but in most cases its beyond them. My understanding is that SGO will only be overturned in really exceptional circumstances such as a change in the ability of the guardian to continue caring, improper care, or a radical and sustained change in the the BM's own lifestyle.

The 'threat' is still very unsettling though, but I would encourage the guardians to try not to worry about what might be, and concentrate on the reality of giving the children stability.
Former F&F carer, foster carer, adopter and respite carer for umpteen children. Now retired and when with kids, making sure they 'go home' at the end of the day.

Celle
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Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Wed Aug 20, 2014 12:05 pm

One thing in the guardians' favour is that birth mother has already had a chance to prove that she could kick the drugs and stay "clean", and failed.

She was on her last warning, having had 2 children removed from her by court order, when she became pregnant with F. From 6 weeks pregnant, she tested drug free, and stayed that way until F was about 5 months old, when she moved to accommodation on her own (with both daughters), away from supervision by her parents. She went straight back on the drugs, failed to pay her rent, and kept her daughters in a neglected-looking state, with the predictable result that she lost her third child as well.

Before her lapse, she had been drug free for over a year, so I would expect a much longer period to be required in order to prove that she had changed.

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David Roth
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Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by David Roth » Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:28 am

There are a lot of hurdles to a parent wanting to overturn a SGO.

Firstly, they cannot just take the case back to court. They have to get the leave of the court first.

They have to demonstrate that there has been a significant change in circumstances since the order was made. The word 'significant' is important here - it would not be enough just to say she has been drug-free for a few months, that would just be seen as a step in the right direction.

However, finally and most importantly, the highest priority will be given by the court to the child's welfare. If the child continues to be happy and settled in the way you describe above, the the effect on the child of uprooting her from the guardians and placing her back with her mother would be an important consideration. Even if it does get as far as going back to court, judges are unlikely to rule that a happy and settled child should be uprooted. It will be the judge who rules about whether or not there is an unbreakable bond, and what that means for the child, not the mother.
David Roth
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Celle
Posts: 68
Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:26 pm

Re: SGO or adoption?

Post by Celle » Fri Dec 05, 2014 8:20 pm

F, the little one, has now been with her special guardians for almost 10 months. She recently had her second birthday.
My daughter, after taking 6 months' leave, has now gone back to work 4 days a week. She works Monday and Tuesday, has Wednesday at home, then works Thursday and Friday.

F goes to day nursery on the work days and likes it there.
On Wednesday, my daughter takes her to the local library for singing and story time in the morning and she has a swimming lesson in the afternoon - all of which she enjoys.

F is progressing well. She is now speaking in short sentences and all her other milestones appear normal. She's settled and happy - and is much loved.

The relationship with her birth sister and birth grandparents has continued to be satisfactory. Every time they visit my son-in-law's mother, they also visit F's birth family (except for her birth mother). They have also twice met up with the former foster parents, in neutral territory. That went well, too.

Recently, F's birth mother visited her own mother (F's grandmother) and told her that she now wished my daughter and son-in-law to adopt F. She has shown no further interest in seeing F, and volunteered that she now wants her to be adopted by her guardians. She said that she was willing to sign whatever is necessary, to give support for such an adoption.

Since adoption is what my daughter and s-i-l have wanted all along, they are now keen to proceed next year with an application to adopt F. To whom should they apply? The local authority that placed F with them, or the local authority where they live?
Is there any statutory time lapse required before they can apply to adopt?


They intend to continue contact with the birth family and have support from all of them for an adoption.

There would be certain legal advantages for F if she is adopted into our family - including being able to benefit from dual citizenship and being a beneficiary of the family trust.

Currently, F has no problem differentiating between her various grandparents. I am Nana, and she has Nanny J and Nanny L; my husband is Grandad and her birth grandfather is Gramps. None of that would change.

My son-in-law is currently F's first cousin twice removed, so the birth relationship is not a close one.

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